By Kevin Rutherford
While it’s not all fun and games, Of Monsters & Men‘s first album My Head Is An Animal is led by some of the happiest and luckiest of happy-go-lucky singles. “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound” came to typify the Icelandic indie folk act’s presentation: Sunny, poppy, radio-friendly tunes with majestic horns, joyous melodies and the shouted “hey!” that bands of their ilk loved back in 2012 and 2013.
It’s what makes the band’s followup, the newly released Beneath the Skin, such a disarming record on first listen. There are no “Little Talks” on the record; no “Mountain Sound.”
Instead, think of the quintet’s sophomore release literally in terms of its title. Beneath the Skin suggests, perhaps, a record more than skin deep, one that submerges below the surface of what the band explored on previous records, a more personal affair, inward rather than outward.
Of Monsters & Men’s Ragnar Þórhallsson confirms that suspicion in our interview.
“Our first album was very carefree and innocent in a way,” Þórhallsson, who performs the male lead vocals and primarily acoustic guitar for the band, tells Radio.com. “We were all good friends but we were still kind of figuring each other out whilst making the album. I think we found common ground in the adventure and joy of creating something together and I think that shaped the album quite a lot.
“This time around we’re in a different situation. We’ve been together for five years now and gone through a lot together, so I think we felt more comfortable going a bit more personal on this one. I think it’s a really natural development from our first album, especially if you’ve ever seen us play live.”